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Old 03-16-2015, 09:49 PM   #1
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How to change gravel? With fish in or out?

I have read how to do a proper gravel change.. Doing half at one time, wait a week or two then the other half..
Question is about the fish.. My tank is a 55g planted, so there's will be quite a bit of gravel being moved around and I think it will kick up a decent amount of debris, I have gbrs, apistos, and cardinals that I am worried about. Will this stress them out too much? Or would moving them into a different tank stress them just as much?
I'm leaning more towards leaving the fish in the tank and just going really slow and give it a really good vacuum before.
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Old 03-16-2015, 10:30 PM   #2
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I changed from gravel to sand (if this is what your meaning by changing the gravel)
First I took the fish out and put them in a 5 gallon bucket 3/4 of way full with tank water I took out all the decor and plants out then I took the gravel and put it in a bucket next I put the sand in then all the decor back in. I let it sit for a few minutes with the filter running then I put the fish back in.


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Old 03-17-2015, 06:28 AM   #3
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I agree, just pull the fish out and change it all in one go. Its less stressful to the fish and is a lot easier for you. Its gonna require a huge water change, but thats not really a big deal.
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Old 03-17-2015, 06:38 AM   #4
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I've done this at one time and like you thought about doing it bits at a time with fish in. But in the end I just got a plastic storage tub, thoroughly cleaned and rinsed it with hot tap water. Dried it out then siphoned 99% of the tank water into it and moved over the fish and filter while that was going on.

Best thing I did. Removed the stress out of it all. Could take my time with the substrate change and, sculpting, plant & decoration repositioning. No risk to the fish of kicking up anaerobic muck into the water column or anything. When it was all done just moved 50% of the tank water, the filter & fish back into the tank. Filled the rest of the tank with Primed tap water. Gravel and water change done in one go.

Was easy
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Old 03-17-2015, 06:39 AM   #5
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Fish out. Much easier!

(See above)
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Old 03-18-2015, 01:58 AM   #6
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Fish out. Much easier!

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+1


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Old 03-18-2015, 09:45 AM   #7
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I always take fish out if I'm changing the gravel less stressful for all involved an change some of the water to fresh when filling back up


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Old 03-18-2015, 10:15 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the replies, what size container should I put my fish in? I feel like a 5 gallon bucket will be too small for 11 cardinals, 2gbrs, 4apistos cockatoos, 2 dwarf gourami, and a Bristlenose pleco. It should only take an hour I'm guessing to do the change im thinking. 5 gallon too small? Clean out a big Rubbermaid storage container?
I'm thinking of either pool filter sand or this northern granite peastone
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Old 03-18-2015, 12:06 PM   #9
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I switched out my gravel to sand with the fish in the tank. I think its more stressful to net them and place them in a bucket with nothing to hide in or near. So I left the bigger decorations (rocks, driftwood) and moved them to one side. The fish all moved over there when I cleared one half, then I moved the stuff to the clear half and completed the job. Adding the sand was easy and didnt seem to stress them, they actually moved toward the sand out of curiosity.

If you have a UG filter, its a bit more tricky. I vacuumed the gravel well and then removed a lift tube and vacummed directly over it to pull out the really black stuff from under the plates. Thats the stuff that will kill a fish very quickly if it gets into it.
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Old 03-18-2015, 12:12 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the replies, what size container should I put my fish in? I feel like a 5 gallon bucket will be too small for 11 cardinals, 2gbrs, 4apistos cockatoos, 2 dwarf gourami, and a Bristlenose pleco. It should only take an hour I'm guessing to do the change im thinking. 5 gallon too small? Clean out a big Rubbermaid storage container?
I'm thinking of either pool filter sand or this northern granite peastoneAttachment 267732
Thoughts?


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I would use the Rubbermaid storage container for that many fish. I only had 2 Angels so I used a 5 gallon bucket.


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Old 03-18-2015, 12:46 PM   #11
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I would use the Rubbermaid storage container for that many fish. I only had 2 Angels so I used a 5 gallon bucket.


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Thanks, yea I definitely feel more comfortable using a larger Rubbermaid bin with my filter hooked up to that.


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Old 03-18-2015, 12:51 PM   #12
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I have a lot of live plants to throw in there with them for some temporary hiding spots. My main reason for questions everyone's opinion is because aquarium advice has an article on changing substrate on an established tank. And it says to do half at a time because of BB in the gravel.... Too avoid an ammonia spike?
I'm leaning towards fish out, new pool filter sand, new lace rock, and monitoring my water for a few days to see if there is a mini cycle started... If so I'll be doing 50% WC with prime everyday


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Old 03-18-2015, 06:15 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by doctordamen View Post
I have a lot of live plants to throw in there with them for some temporary hiding spots. My main reason for questions everyone's opinion is because aquarium advice has an article on changing substrate on an established tank. And it says to do half at a time because of BB in the gravel.... Too avoid an ammonia spike?
I'm leaning towards fish out, new pool filter sand, new lace rock, and monitoring my water for a few days to see if there is a mini cycle started... If so I'll be doing 50% WC with prime everyday


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There's more than one way to skin a cat.

It's probably better to change out half at a time, but imho it's more trouble than it's worth. You have to either put the fish through the stress of netting them out and holding them in a separate container twice or you have to worry about a large ammonia spike from removing the gravel freeing up the trapped detritus underneath.
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Old 03-18-2015, 11:03 PM   #14
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There's more than one way to skin a cat.



It's probably better to change out half at a time, but imho it's more trouble than it's worth. You have to either put the fish through the stress of netting them out and holding them in a separate container twice or you have to worry about a large ammonia spike from removing the gravel freeing up the trapped detritus underneath.

Touché ? Lol I know what you're saying.. Thats why I'm wondering what option is better...


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Old 03-18-2015, 11:29 PM   #15
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Touché ? Lol I know what you're saying.. Thats why I'm wondering what option is better...


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If you're confident in your ability to manage a mini cycle that probably wouldnt last more than a few days if there was even any at all then i would say go with the complete change. If not, then play it safe and do it half at a time.

Just keep in mind, netting isnt a pleasant process for the fish.
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Old 03-19-2015, 12:28 AM   #16
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I'm doing this soon and I plan to go fish out. No risk of ammonia spike if you rinse the tank while you've got the gravel out and remove the detritus before adding sand. Unless you have an under gravel filter there isn't enough BB in the gravel to affect your cycle. Fast your fish for a day or two afterward if you're really concerned.

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Old 03-21-2015, 10:12 AM   #17
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I did fish out, kept some in a big cooler and 5 gallon buckets. I'm glad I did because the junk that came out of the gravel, which I always "cleaned", was heinous. Managing the mini cycle wasn't bad. Either way, the fish get stressed and to me it was easier to get them out and take my time getting it done properly than space out the arms in tank activity and moving stuff all over the place over a few days. Maybe a bigger stressor to take them out, but shorter duration. Either way best of luck!
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Old 03-26-2015, 11:49 AM   #18
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How to change gravel? With fish in or out?

Thanks for all the advice everyone. I finally changed from my aquarium gravel to pool filter sand. (Nephaline syenite) Taking the fish out was BY FAR the right choice. I couldn't imagine doing it any other way.
I moved the fish to a large Rubbermaid container and hooked up the filter and heater. I took my time making sure I cleaned all the nasty stuff out of the tank once it settled to the bottom. I took ammonia tests throughout the process to make sure there were no spikes. Added sand and lace rock, then drained the water down to 20%. Added plants. I topped it back up with warm water to get back to 80F. Hooked the filter and heater back up and moved the fish. I then topped off the tank with some water from the Rubbermaid bin.
Everyone was under a bit of stress going into the new setup but after about 30mins they started acting more normal. This morning everyone is happy and eating
I was worried about my rams and cardinals, but their colours didn't even fade!
Again, thanks for the advice on fish out!


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Old 03-26-2015, 11:56 AM   #19
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